Holiday Hope program to serve deserving families

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HANCOCK COUNTY — Officials working with Blue Angle Connect will once again be working with deserving families this holiday season, handing out cheer and gifts for everyone in the family, as well as a full meal for Christmas Day.

Blue Angel Connect is a non-profit organization working with public service agencies and other local organizations to provide services and needs to residents of Hancock and Henry counties.

Blue Angle Connect Vice President and Treasurer Brent Burris, a former Shirley police officer, and his wife, Blue Angel Connect President Kim Burris, along with their daughter, Nicole Burris, who is the co-founder of the program, are hosting The seventh annual Holiday Hope program this year. They plan on surprising families at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at Buck Creek Fire Department with Christmas gifts and a warm meal.

“Last year, we wrapped around 600 presents and we expect it to be another big year,” Brent Burris said.

The group invites families they’ve learned about through county school officials to attend a private luncheon at Buck Creek Fire Department. Then after a nice warm meal, they’ll surprise the families with Christmas presents they have hidden in a separate room.

“Right now, we have a dozen different families who are deserving of coming to the event,” Brent Burris said. “We’re anticipating we’ll pick up a few more and probably end up hosting 15 families or so.”

Brent Burris noted there are many deserving families who need a little extra help during the holidays, particularly this year, and they’re thrilled to be able to offer a helping hand, especially at Christmas time.

“For whatever reason people are in a bind, we want to help out,” Brent Burris said. “Things are so expensive nowadays and we don’t want to see families to have to choose between paying bills or getting Christmas, so we’re here to help.”

The organization used to drop off gifts and food to the homes of the families selected, but the past few years they’ve just invited the families to come to the fire station to meet Santa and have lunch. They then surprise the families with gifts and food for the holiday after Santa makes a visit.

“They have no idea they’re getting presents, plus they will get a Christmas day dinner,” Brent Burris said.

When he was a police officer in the community, Brent Burris used to be able to selecte families to help due to seeing need when he was out on calls. Now, the organization relies on officials from the Mt. Vernon and Eastern Hancock school districts to make them aware of families who might need a little help.

Between the Blue Angel Connect organization and all the goodwill put forth by several police organizations in the county who offer holiday shopping for kids, Burris said he feels like they are able to meet needs for several families in the county.

“We ask that families who do apply to make sure they are not taking part in any other shopping giveaways this year,” Brent Burris said. “That way we can make sure more people are taken care of this holiday season.”

This year’s Holiday Hope sponsors include: Smokehouse Catering Co., Leo’s Market and Eatery, Mount Comfort RV, NineStar Connect, Hancock Health, Meijer, and Daniels Family Vineyard and Winery.

Anyone who knows a family in need should reach out to the organization through their website this week at blueangelconnect.org where they have an application process.

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